Pete Wells is "mystified" by the buzz surrounding hot Philly import Han Dynasty, especially in a city with such great Sichuan food. Although he finds a few dishes that he enjoys, like the chicken wings and the rabbit with peanuts, too many others fall flat. Take it away, Pete:
Many main courses are heavy on sugar, bell peppers and especially MSG, which is often used in great, slashing doses. They come across as close relatives of the kung pao chicken made by the best Chinese takeout in your neighborhood. In fact, your local joint might do this Sichuan crossover hit better than Han Dynasty, whose version was one of the sweetest and least appealing things on the menu.Wells is also disappointed by the "anemic interpretation of cumin lamb," and the too-sweet version of Three Cup Chicken. Han Dynasty gets a zero-star "satisfactory" rating. For those keeping track at home, that's two goose eggs in two weeks from Wells.
This week, Pete also gives one star to Soho newcomer Hirohisa. The critic writes: "I love the way Hirohisa Hayashi, the chef, brings out the whispering harmonies that result when one small wave of flavor laps against another."
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[Photo: Robert Sietsema]